“I know that I’ve been sitting at my desk, in front of my computer all day, I know that I’ve been doing things… but what really have I done? What have I accomplished today?” If you’ve ever experienced this and asked yourself these questions, then it’s a good sign: a sign that you’ve started to realize that something is not working.
Why we shouldn’t multitask
You’ve probably heard before that we shouldn’t work harder but more efficiently, and if efficiency is our goal, then we should avoid multitasking. Why? Simply because our brain cannot process more that one string of information at the same time. If you are now thinking “I’m actually quite good at multitasking”, then keep reading.Multitasking reduces your productivity by 40% Click To Tweet
Devora Zack, author of the new book Singletasking: Get More Done – One Thing at a Time, says multitasking is a myth. “The brain cannot be in two places at once, so what people are referencing as multitasking is actually what neuroscientists call task switching and that means rapidly moving back and forth between different tasks,” says Zack, and adds that in doing so, you lower your productivity by 40%.
A group of Stanford researchers have found that multitaskers are less productive than those who prefer doing one thing at a time. Heavy multitaskers are easily distracted and cannot filter out irrelevant information, which means they are easily slowed down. They have difficulty organizing their thoughts and memories and they are unable to switch from one thing to another better or faster than light multitaskers.Heavy multitaskers are easily distracted and are not better at switching from one thing to another. Click To Tweet
Still, many people claim to be good at multitasking. Do they have a special gift or a bigger control over their thoughts and attention? Apparently there is no such thing and it is not true that people can do more than one thing (that require brainpower, of course) at the same time and be efficient. Professor Clifford Nass, one of the researchers, said: “We kept looking for what they’re better at, and we didn’t find it.”
Working mindfully: what’s that exactly?
Simply put, to work mindfully means to be present and to pay full attention to what you are doing and feeling. You can devote all your attention to a single task, to a conversation with a workmate, or to how you feel in any given situation.We spend so much time wrapped up in our thoughts that we lose contact with the real world. Click To Tweet
“Mindfulness essentially means awareness,” Dr. Danny Penman, author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World, told the Huffington Post. “Becoming aware of what’s going on around you can make a huge difference, because we spend so much time wrapped up in our thoughts that we lose contact with the real world. That’s especially the case if you’re constantly bombarded by email, Facebook posts and Twitter. It’s not really conducive to a calm and productive work environment.”
How can we then apply it?
Paying attention to our needs and to how we feel
If you are distracted and feel like your mind is begging for a rest, then give it a rest, don’t push it – you won’t accomplish anything good if you are not fully focused on what you are doing. Same applies to many other feelings that can hinder your productivity, like anger or frustration.
Check the number of tabs you have open at this specific moment. Think about how many times an hour you stop whatever you are doing to check your emails or your social media updates. Remember the drawbacks of multi-tasking and find your own ways to avoid distractions.
Being present in conversations
Especially if you are in a position of leadership. If someone is talking to you, make an effort to listen to what they are saying with the intention of understanding, not of making a pause and waiting for the other person to finish so you can answer or give your opinion.
Doing less, but doing better
Take your time, don’t rush.
Did you enjoy this article? Then you will also enjoy reading about “mindlessness” and living on autopilot. Check it out here.